Robben Island

Cape Town - The Robben Island Museum Council is headed by a former public servant who was the subject of a forensic investigation and against whom disciplinary action was recommended.

Sibusiso Buthelezi was appointed as the island’s new council chairman at the end of last year.

He took over from Dikobe Ben Martins, who was assigned to be transport minister.

Buthelezi has worked closely with Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile.

Buthelezi said this week the investigation against him at the time “lacked professionalism and integrity as it served narrow factional political interests”.

He said “negative media reports” about the forensic investigation and his leaving the government had damaged his reputation and affected his family.

Department spokeswoman Lisa Combrinck confirmed this week that Mashatile had appointed Buthelezi on August 24 last year as a council member and later as chairman.

Mashatile worked with Buthelezi at the Gauteng government when Buthelezi was head of the Housing Department and Mashatile was the MEC for the same portfolio between 1999 and 2004.

Buthelezi’s last permanent position in government, as Gauteng’s head of public transport, roads and works, was cut short when he was placed on suspension for four months in 2009. This followed a forensic investigation by Peter Harris, from the Resolve Group, which recommended that disciplinary action be instituted against him.

The investigation was initiated after Buthelezi and his political head, MEC Ignatius Jacobs, made counter-claims against each other relating to contracts at the department.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said at the time of releasing the report that Buthelezi “had contravened or failed to comply with key provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, Treasury regulations and Treasury supply chain management practice notes which have exposed the department to significant financial risk”.

Buthelezi was suspended on July 14, 2009 and later charged with misconduct.

Mokonyane’s administration made a turnabout a few months later: it settled with Buthelezi, withdrew all charges against him and gave him one year’s full pay.

“A few months later, it became apparent that the disciplinary case against Mr Buthelezi would drag on for a lengthy period and could potentially paralyse the functioning of the department.

“To avoid this lengthy and expensive process, the Department of Roads and Transport reached a settlement with Buthelezi in November 2009,” said Mokonyane.

Gauteng DA caucus leader Jack Bloom said Buthelezi’s appointment was “a prime example of leaving under a cloud at one place (and being) redeployed somewhere else”.

National Education Health and Allied Workers Union provincial secretary Luthando Nogcinisa said the union had not met Buthelezi since he was appointed. “There is generally a sour relationship between management and the union and its members,” he said.

Robben Island has previously made headlines due to alleged mismanagement.

The Star